Changes possible for problematic Brunswick intersection

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BRUNSWICK — The Department of Transportation is scheduling a meeting next month on a proposal to rebuild the intersection of Mill Street, Pleasant Street and Stanwood Street.

U.S. Route 1 shares the intersection, adding traffic to an already busy juncture of three central roads that is known to infuriate merging drivers from Stanwood Street and cause long back-ups on Mill Street.

The state is fundng the project.

The date of the meeting has yet to be scheduled, Town Manager John Eldridge said, because DOT is still “tweaking” the design, which would essentially widen the intersection to alleviate congestion on Mill Street from cars trying to merge south onto Pleasant Street.

At least one town councilor who lives near the intersection opposes the design, however, arguing that cars trying to make a left turn from Stanwood Street to Pleasant Street already have a difficult time making their way quickly into the right-hand lane.

“Coming out of Stanwood Street, when you have a green light and you’re going to be turning up on Pleasant Street heading south, if you can’t get over to the further lane on the right immediately, you very often can’t get over there are all,” Councilor Kathy Wilson said Friday.

Wilson sits on the Master Plan Implementation Committee, as well as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. She said the intersection has been “one of my pet peeves for four or five years now.”

Cars coming from Mill Street have a yield sign merging south on the Pleasant Street, although Wilson said they rarely do for vehicles turning left from Stanwood that are trying to quickly get over to the right-hand lane.

Wilson is often one of those drivers – she lives off Pleasant Street – but so are residents who need to turn right on River Road at the next intersection.

“If you want to turn up River Road,” she said, “I’ve had times that if I didn’t immediately get into the right-hand lane (after turning left from Stanwood), I had to go up to the turnaround and go all the way back (up Route 1).”

Vehicles headed south on Route 1 on Mill Street have a yield sign when they turn onto Pleasant, but a raised island and a solid white line with a rumble strip currently exists at the intersection, which encourages those cars to merge without feeling the need to yield, Wilson said.

While there have been few actual collisions, Cmdr. Tom Garrepy said the police department receives complaints and hear confusion about the intersection, especially over which drivers have the right of way.

Wilson reported lots of road rage. “It’s infuriating,” she said.

She said the DOT’s plan to widen the intersection by constructing a large island and moving the Mill Street merge lane farther away – onto the undeveloped piece of land owned by the town that was formerly home to a Cumberland Farms gas station – wouldn’t solve the problem of allowing Mill Street drivers to get over to the right lane.

“All that will do is make it even harder,” she said.

Instead, she prefers a solution that would emphasize to oncoming Mill Street vehicles that they must yield to cars coming from Stanwood Street – either a bigger yield sign, a yield sign painted on the road, or even a traffic signal, she said.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Redesign of the Mill-Pleasant-Stanwood intersection in Brunswick will be discussed next month by the Maine Department of Transportation.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.
  • Chew H Bird

    The lack of adherence or understanding of the word: “Yield” is not limited to Brunswick. I drive up and down the coast and Maine seems to be the worst state I have seen regarding the understanding of the word “yield”. Apparently, many of us Mainers simply expect people with the right of way to move over so we can merge.

    As for this specific intersection, the worst times (by far) are the summer months when we are overpopulated with tourists who do not know which lane they should be in to ease their travels.

    Additional signage would help. Perhaps some flashing yellow lights for the people heading south on Mill who are merging into traffic might help. Without a total re-design, the basic concept of highway traffic moving both North and South through the commercial zone on Pleasant Street will continue to be a cluster, regardless of whether we spend money on it or not.

    The best solution that I can think of is to have police monitor traffic and actually ticket a few folks who fail to yield and maybe the problem will slightly lessen.

    This isn’t worth spending a million bucks to revise what isn’t possible to actually fix.

    • Ted Markow

      Couldn’t agree more, Chew. Let’s not throw another dump truck full of money at a problem that probably has a much cheaper and more simple solution (like they’re doing with parking meters). A flashing yellow light would help and possibly a sign before the intersection telling drivers that they must yield. After that, there isn’t much more to be done.

      As for tourists…we get more traffic in the summer and that’s just the way it is (it could be worse, we could get no summer traffic). Maybe a flashing south-bound sign before the cut-off that goes to the Topsham 295 exit indicating heavy traffic during certain times would help divert more traffic.

      Other than that…c’mon Brunswick – cool your fiscal jets!

  • EdBeem

    Wouldn’t a No Turn on Red sign coming out of Mill St. help? It’s cars coming off Mill St. and not yielding that is the problem it seems to me.

    • Chew H Bird

      Except that for 8-9 months of the year is isn’t that much of a problem…

  • farmertom2

    This is not problematic– it’s just long, for some people.

  • CAC

    I wondered if a round about would fix it all?

    • Chew H Bird

      I doubt it based upon the heavy summer usage. Also, the new police station is on that corner and they will want, (if they do not already have), the ability to remotely control the lights in an emergency situation.